National Post Talks Trek Tech

By Amy
November 8, 2000 - 6:44 AM

The National Post recently ran an article by Mark Schatzker on how the Star Trek vision of science and technology in the future proved surprisingly accurate – if a little lagging behind current modern innovation, even though a number of items, such as the transporter, may never be accieved.

Star Trek's success at predicting new technology is thanks to its creator, Gene Roddenberry, who went to great lengths to base Star Trek science on real science. From the beginning, technical consultants took part in the formulation of the scripts. True, "phasers" were pure fantasy. But the level of detail was such that when the aliens from Sigma Draconis VI stole Spock's brain, their ship was powered by ion engines, a technology dating back to the 1950s that is still used by NASA.

Certain other Star Trek inventions may not be achieved so soon, if ever. The warp drive is the device that allows spaceships on Star Trek to travel faster than the speed of light. Even supposing such a device to be theoretically possible, the warp drive's major limitation is that it is powered by antimatter. It is possible to make antimatter, but only in minute amounts and at great expense.

The CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, the most efficient laboratory in the world at making antimatter, produces about a thousand atoms of it every hour. According to Frank Close, a particle physicist and professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London, if we could improve that to 10 million atoms of antimatter every second, it still would take 10 billion years to produce a single kilogram. He says, "So, even if we don't worry about how we store the stuff, the idea of making antimatter in significant quantities is, I regret, science fiction."

Click here for the full article, which provides an interesting look at just how far-fetched Star Trek was.

Discuss this news item at Trek BBS!
XML Add TrekToday RSS feed to your news reader or My Yahoo!
Also a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fan? Then visit!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.